Outlawed extremist groups find their place in electoral politics


January 10, 2022 12:29 AM STI

Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan. 10 (ANI): Outlawed extremist groups such as Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are finding electoral space in Pakistani politics, which will be visible in the upcoming local elections to be held soon.
TLP is part of several religious sect groups, operating on the blurred line between non-violent religious extremism and violent activism who want their piece of the pie in the upcoming local elections, especially in urban centers like Karachi, according to News International.
In recent years, the Pakistani government, as part of its unannounced policy of “integrating activists”, has encouraged several religious groups, proscribed and not, to participate in electoral politics instead of using violent means, reported News International.

In addition, in some cases alliances between Pakistani political parties have been formed with the main political parties and independent groups, and proscribed religious groups are now participating in the elections. In the process, they become actors in traditional electoral politics, aided by their party employees.
Previously, TLP, a violent Barelvi sectarian group, is one example. It was formed in 2016 following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a policeman who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer, in 2011, for his opposition to blasphemy laws.
After drawing large crowds and staging violent street protests over the issue of blasphemy laws, TLP competed in the 2018 general election. It became Pakistan’s fifth most popular party, finishing third in terms of votes. for the Punjab Assembly, overtaking the Pakistani People’s Party and winning two seats in the Karachi Provincial Assembly, according to News International.
Despite a large number of votes in the 2018 general election, the TLP continued to organize violent protests. This forced the Pakistani federal government to declare it a prohibited attire.
However, after weeklong protests in November last year, the TLP succeeded in pressuring the federal government to overturn the party’s ban. (ANI)

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